When you own your own business, one of the great pleasures (and frustrations) is that you will try out a million ideas – so many of which will not work out the way you wanted. The thrill is honing and shaping those ideas to make them work, while the frustration comes when those changes and brainstorms don’t seem to help. Sometimes, ideas just don’t work out no matter how much you play with them.
I’ve noticed something interesting about this over the years. Often, when we female entrepreneurs find that ideas aren’t working, we just keep going anyway. It doesn’t matter if we are wasting time or money or energy – for some reason, we justify sticking with it.
But isn’t there value in your time, energy and money? Ummm….YES! You will never recover the time you lose in this life, your energy allows you to enjoy your life and your money is the compensation you receive for both (your time and energy).
My challenge to you now is this: If you have something in your business that is not working and you have tweaked it, shaped it, molded it, changed it, turned it on its head and it’s still not working – let it go. Letting go of something that isn’t working doesn’t signify failure – on the contrary, you are demonstrating your commitment to success.
I am currently dealing with an issue that has not been working for over two years now, involving a consignment account with a nearby nonprofit organization that promotes community involvement and local business. It stands for everything I believe in, as a business and organization, and as such, I have been committed to being a part of it.
However, I’ve had nothing but problems from the beginning. While I say it is nearby, I simply mean nearby in the sense that it serves people within my county, as opposed to my online shop, which serves people around the world. But it is based in a shop 15 miles away from me which is a big deal for a bicycle commuter with three day jobs. And when I get orders, it is usually for one small item, like a $4 lip balm. What happens on delivery day? In the past, I would have to drive 30 miles to drop off a $4 item. And today, since I no longer have time to do that, I pay a delivery service to pick it up from my house and deliver it for me – for a five dollar fee. Do the math and you’ll see my problem. I’m not only not making a profit, I’m not even breaking even. I’m losing money almost every delivery cycle.
Why have I stuck with it? Because I want to be a go-to bath and body presence within my community, and I want to participate in an organization that shares my values. But it’s been over two years now and nothing has changed. It’s entirely possible that I haven’t tried hard enough. Or maybe I’m just being buried by the competition. (There are three other herbal bath and body shops that sell through this venue, all of whom are more well-known than I am.) But the bottom line is: I’ve tried as much as I can/want to. I did the best I could. Now it’s time to decide whether to pull out entirely or cut back to selling only in their brick and mortar shop that recently opened.
There are many others I need to face: leaving or staying on Etsy, trying consignment in other shops, cutting back on my product line, evolving my business, etc. Lots and lots of things that aren’t really working so well that need to be addressed.
I’m almost afraid to say this, in case I catch hell for it, but I’m going to go for it: Most male business owners I know don’t waffle like this. If something isn’t making a profit, they cut it. If something isn’t working, they change it. There’s no guilt, no indecision, no (apparent) doubt. I’m glad to say I know a lot of women like this, too. But I know even more women like me – stuck in the hamster wheel. Treading water. Pushing that boulder up the hill again.
And hey, this applies to life, too! You don’t have to be a business owner to experience this issue.
So tell me (whether you own a business or run a family, or anything in between): What is not working for you that you haven’t been willing to let go?